In Jonathan Swift’s satire Gulliver’s Travels, the traveller finds that Lilliput has been riven for 36 moons by a dispute between Big-endians and Small-endians, who disagree about which end of a boiled egg to crack: “These civil commotions were constantly fomented by the monarchs of Blefuscu . . . Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy.” The problem, of course, is that no compromise is possible: you have to choose one end or the other.
Swift’s satire of Catholics and Protestants in 18th-century England echoes today’s increasingly bitter Leave-Remain divide, the monarch of Blefuscu being, of course, Jean-Claude Juncker.… Seguir leyendo »
The Italian referendum and close-shave Austrian election are symptoms of a continent that may be teetering on the brink of political disintegration. It’s just possible that an empire may be collapsing before our eyes, as the Habsburg and Ottoman empires did before it, in or around the same neighbourhood.
With the rise of nationalist parties in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Britain, the possibility that the Brussels union has fomented, rather than suppressed, nationalism can no longer be dismissed. The Habsburg empire, which also tried to make a whole out of linguistically and culturally diverse parts, and ended in a war sparked by Serbian nationalism, is an unhappy precedent.… Seguir leyendo »